Bulgaria’s ruling majority encountered little difficulty in passing the 2018 Budget Act at first reading on November 9, one day after MPs approved the social security and healthcare funds’ budget for next year. The bill passed with 126 votes in favour and 96 opposed, with one MP abstaining.
In the debate preceding the vote, both the ruling majority and opposition parties took a number of shots at each other, as has become traditional on the House floor.
Kornelia Ninova, leader of the largest opposition party, the socialists, described the bill as a “budget of stagnation” that offered little in the way of solutions to problems encountered by people in their day-to-day life. She said that her party’s “alternative budget” – much talked about but yet to be seen – would be tabled between the two readings of the Budget bill.
For his part, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, floor leader for GERB, the senior partner in the government coalition, described the bill’s passing as a sign of health in the coalition. lashing out at the socialists for their plan to table a motion of no confidence on the eve of Bulgaria assuming the six-month rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union on January 1.
The second reading of the Budget bill will be later this month, as Bulgarian law dictates that the Budget has to be passed by the end of November. Unlike at first reading, where the bill is voted in bulk, at second reading the vote will go article by article, including on any amendments filed between readings.
For more coverage on the 2018 Budget bill, see The Sofia Globe story here.